While the latest figures show a certain balance in Morocco’s trade balance in its trade with Spain, it is clear that the economies of the two countries have untapped potential and that the two partners are capable of creating a value chain. regionally competitive industry.
Morocco’s foreign trade coverage rate with Spain is tending to improve, reflecting a certain complementarity of trade flows between the two countries. But over the past two years, rising fuel prices have played a large part in the imbalance in the bilateral trade balance. “It’s true, there is a certain imbalance in the exchanges, but which is explained by the rise, in 2021 and 2022, of the prices of up to 60% of the fuels purchased by Morocco from its Iberian neighbor”, explains Houda Benghazi, expert in Morocco-Spain relations and whose name is linked to the Morocco-Spain Economic Council “CEMAES”. According to this expert, who held the position of Director General of CEMAES until December 2022 (which earned her the Civil Merit Cross from the Kingdom of Spain), Spain is the leading economic partner of Morocco, for eight years already. “Spain has maintained this position despite the pandemic and despite the political crisis that has rocked relations between the two countries. This points to the strength of bilateral trade. So, overall, equilibrium characterizes the trade balance between the two countries. Spain is Morocco’s leading supplier, but also its leading customer. The nature of exports and imports show the interest and the value of these exchanges”, she explains.
Referring to the promising sectors and the niches to be explored within the framework of the commercial partnership between the two countries, Houda Benghazi quotes, among others, that of the production of shoes and real estate… “The Spaniards believe that Morocco could constitute a platform for manufacture shoes for Europe and for Africa within the framework of a partnership with Spain. Another niche to invest in is that of water reuse, an area in which Spain is very competitive, while Morocco has a pressing need in this area. There is also the sector of water desalination for the benefit of agriculture. Investment in the education and health sectors also brings opportunities,” says our source.
The rail industry in the sights
Furthermore, Ms. Benghazi insists on an important new sector which, according to her, could make the difference between the past and the future in Moroccan-Spanish relations. This is the rail industry. “Spanish high-speed rail lines have become a benchmark on a global scale. It is possible, within the framework of a partnership between the two countries, to set up the core of a railway industry ecosystem, similar to what has been achieved in Morocco in the automobile”, emphasizes our interlocutor.
Houda Benghazi Akhlaki, expert in Moroccan-Spanish trade relations: The complementarity of the Moroccan and Spanish economies could promote the creation of regional value chains
For Houda Benghazi, an expert in Moroccan-Spanish trade relations, the fact that Madrid has remained Morocco’s leading economic partner for eight years, despite the pandemic and despite an unprecedented political crisis, “denotes the solidity of bilateral trade”. . This former director general of the Morocco-Spain Economic Council (decorated with the Cross of Civil Merit by the Kingdom of Spain) believes that the two countries can create industrial value chains on a regional scale, as their economies are so complementary and present undeniable comparative advantages compared to other economic zones.
What is your reading of economic relations between Morocco and Spain?
The economic relations between Spain and Morocco, developed in particular by the voluntary actions of certain private companies, have made it possible to smooth out the political misunderstandings that arise from time to time. But today, with the new momentum of partnership which is consolidating, it is the political dynamism which will constitute a lever for the economic relations between Spain and Morocco. In this context, we can expect real government support on both sides. Already, the President of the Spanish government, Pedro Sanchez, has announced the establishment of a new financing protocol of 800 million euros intended for joint projects to be carried out by Spanish companies in Morocco.
What are the assets that can make this cooperation more solid?
Economic relations between Morocco and Spain must be analyzed in the light of the new context that is emerging. It is, first of all, a context marked by the trend, Covid-19 obliges, to regional relocation in order to ensure adequate management of supply risks in value chains. Because the pandemic context revealed that the Asian countries were very far from Europe and posed a permanent risk to the supply. Next, consideration must be given to the increased demand for proximity in supply chains, with a view to reducing logistics costs and to guaranteeing more traceability with regard to products, and also with a view to taking into account the element of the carbon footprint.
Local sourcing means less time, less logistics costs and less carbon footprint. If we add competitive wage costs, we can say that Morocco has the opportunity to be the factory of Europe. The example of the regional automotive value chain linking Spanish and Moroccan industry has shown that this experience can be duplicated in other sectors. It is this economic and industrial complementarity that could lead to the development of regional value chains.
How exactly can we strengthen this value chain?
To strengthen the Moroccan-Spanish value chain, there must be a real desire for integration. For this, governments must work on two essential points. The first concerns the optimization of logistics between Spain and Morocco, in particular by multiplying the connection ports between the two countries. The second point depends on technical and legal harmonization between the two sides of the strait, to facilitate trade as much as possible. This will make our geographical position a real competitive advantage.
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